Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and Cancer

Ovarian Cancer and Weight

Ovarian cancer is becoming more and more common, and is expected to be diagnosed in over 21,000 women in 2014. It is a major cause of cancer related death in women, and well known risk factors include advanced age and family history of this form of cancer.

The link between obesity and cancer has been known for a long time, especially in pancreatic, breast, colon, and kidney cancers. Scientists added just recently ovarian cancer to this list. Emerging evidence shows that overweight and obese women are more likely to develop this condition, compared with those who maintain a healthy body weight, indicates a study featured in 2014 in “Medical News Today”.

Based on a review of 25 studies including 16 000 women with ovarian cancer, researchers reveal that for every 5 extra body mass index units , a woman has a 6% increased risk for developing cancer of the ovaries. Furthermore, women who have a body mass index (BMI) over 28.4 have significantly higher risk than those women who have lower body mass index.

The association between ovarian cancer and extra pounds may worry many women, since 64% of US women are either overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9) or obese (BMI over 30). However, this risk factor (unlike age and family history) is one that can be modified, and thus can be prevented.

How to maintain a healthy body weight

The goal is to keep a BMI between 18.5 and 24. 9, which is considered normal weight .Avoid crush diets because rapid weight gain and weigh loss had also been linked with various medical conditions. Weight loss occurs when individuals will create calorie deficit- the target is to lose between 5 to 10% of the body weight initially.


Simple lifestyle changes – like decreasing the amount of calories consumed, burning more calories with an exercise program, can be very effective. The best approach is to work with a medical team-including dietician, fitness therapist, psychotherapist and a doctor specialized in weight loss.

Dietary changes are crucial, because diet is responsible for about 70-80% of the weight loss. Caloric deficit can be obtained by eating fewer calories, adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, while limiting highly processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, as well as juices and soda. Improving the fitness level is also important, and the goal should be half an hour to one hours daily of moderate to intense activity (for example swimming, aerobic or jogging)

If diet and exercise can’t bring the weight under control there are medications that can be used, and in some cases surgery may be an option.


If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and notice an increased in weight you should seek your doctor to evaluate the cause. Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen) can be significant and lead to an increased waist circumference and occurs in advanced stages of ovarian cancer. It is not true weight gain, but rather a buildup of fluid in the abdomen that has to be managed medically .


Cancer Research UK (Treating Advanced Ovarian Cancer)

Cancer.Net (Obesity, Weight, and Cancer Risk)

Medical News Today (Risk for ovarian cancer increased by being overweight or obese)

Brenda VantaBrenda Vanta

Dr. Brindusa (Brenda) Vanta received her MD from Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine, Romania, and her HD diploma from Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine. Her main focuses are nutrition and homeopathy.

Nov 18, 2014
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